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Majority of university vice-chancellors in the United Kingdom were found to be involved in remuneration committees.
The University and College Union (UCU) filed a request for freedom of information—the right to obtain information controlled by public sectors—after high incomes of vice-chancellors were brought to light. The data revealed that 95% of university vice-chancellors take part in the activities of committees that make salary-related decisions. Almost half of the vice-chancellors are committee members, while 47% are allowed to participate in committee meetings.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt pointed out that universities have long disguised remuneration committees as independent organizations to turn people’s attention away from the increased pay of vice-chancellors. This pay increase is perceived as inappropriate because vice-chancellors enjoy high salaries while students accumulate huge debts to pay for tuition fees.
In 2016, the average pay for vice-chancellors was £257,904, while the average student debt was £44,000. Considering that university salaries come directly from both taxes and tuition fees, vice-chancellors are allegedly inflating their own pay at the expense of taxpayers and students.
According to parliament member Michelle Donelan, there have been instances wherein the pay of university leaders is far greater than that of the prime minister. Because of this, lawmakers are calling for stricter regulations to control these suspicious activities.
In January 2018, the Committee of University Chairs (CUC) developed some guidelines that forbid vice-chancellors to join remuneration committees. Although the guidelines are still under review, they are expected to promote transparency and prevent conflict of interest when it comes to setting university leaders’ pay.